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A Beauty Which Endures

True beauty endures over time and continues to shine, regardless of the situation. This is the beauty displayed by residents of ICEJ’s Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors, and every year this timeless beauty is celebrated at “Miss Holocaust Survivor,” Israel’s annual gala event.

In October, more than 2,000 Holocaust survivors and their families gathered at Haifa Congress Hall to celebrate “Miss Holocaust Survivor 2018.” The twelve contestants included residents of the Haifa Home; the ladies were dressed up beautifully and received professional treatment from hair stylists and make-up artists. During the pageant, each woman shared part of her story, and the main message to the world is this: “We wish for Shalom in the world, that our beautiful country is taken care of and that you will never forget what we went through.” Israeli TV and international media teams covered the event to share this message with the world.
93-year-old Holocaust survivor Tova Ringer received the crown this year. “I am very happy. It is something special. I wouldn’t believe that at my age I would be a beauty,” remarked Tova, a great grandmother who was born in Poland and lost her parents, four sisters and grandmother in the Auschwitz death camp.

Haifa Home residents were well-represented: Rita won Deputy Beauty Queen, and Shalom, Judith and Miriam were honored with a special award for their courage and lives. The Haifa Home choir closed the evening with a strong declaration: “We survived!” These women lost their youth during the Holocaust, but on this special evening they celebrated their true beauty: The beauty of life!
 

Watchmen on the Border

At Kibbutz Nachal Oz, right on the restive Gaza border, the ICEJ’s Aid Team visited a chapter of an elite volunteer unit, which serves as tactical support for Israel’s police and Border Police forces. The ICEJ has supported these volunteers with necessities, such as winter clothing, as well as more advanced equipment in the form of protective vests.

Before touring the Kibbutz’ perimeter with a clear line of sight to Gaza, we re-saddled from our Skoda sedan to a heavy Land Rover Defender, with windows made from thick slabs of protective glass. The local volunteer officer normally leads 20 men, but because of the increased challenge from Gaza, all-in-all 70 volunteers are currently active in the entire Gaza Envelope. “No way, I’m leaving,” was the determined response from this father of two, when asked of the dangers, “this is my home.” The volunteer officer looks forward to returning to the peace which used to characterise the area, e.g., for Shavuot (Pentecost) when hosts of people would congregate for a farmers’ festival right here on the border.

You help keep these determined volunteers in the field by enabling the ICEJ to supply items like tactical clothing or winter garb. These volunteers help maintain the civilian presence in one of Israel’s hotspots and are part of the comprehensive effort to enable Jewish civilian life to continue next to the menacing neighbour on the other side of the Gaza border fence.
 

Shelter on the Sheep Farm

“We are blessed with this shelter. We are using it…unfortunately. We really, really thank you for this.” These were the words of a sheep farmer in the southern Negev. When ICEJ staff from Jerusalem headquarters visited this sheep farm near the border of Gaza to see a recently-installed bomb shelter donated by the ICEJ, the owner told us they had already used it. Several weeks after installation and only days before we arrived, the warning sirens went off and the owner and her family ran to the shelter as they heard rockets exploding in surrounding areas.

As we were hosted for a tour and delicious dairy luncheon prepared by these humble and strong Israelis, we could feel the sincere gratitude they expressed towards Christians around the world who helped them in their time of need. As small business owners, they couldn’t afford a shelter that was required for any business in the area. Thus, they are even more grateful: Without the support of the ICEJ and provision of this bomb shelter, their restaurant would have been shut down. Thanks to Christians like you, this community will keep their restaurant and provide protection for their guests and family.
 

A New Season for ICEJ Publications

The fall of 2018 signaled a new beginning for ICEJ’s Publications Department as Dan Herron, Director since July 2017, stepped down to pursue academic studies in Jerusalem. During his time at ICEJ, Dan very much enjoyed the international character of the ICEJ Jerusalem staff and took full advantage of the opportunity, often communicating in three to four different languages on a daily basis. According the Dan, “It was a particular privilege for me to serve as Publications Director during the two anniversary milestones for Israel: Jerusalem’s jubilee and Israel’s 70th anniversary.” These were also milestones for the ICEJ’s service to the Jewish nation and its people, a service in which Dan was both pleased and proud to take part.

Dan intends to pursue academic studies in Jerusalem, currently taking courses in counter-terrorism and Turkish foreign policy at Hebrew University. Alongside his university studies, Dan remains committed to promoting Aliyah and will also be working with youth at risk, as well as lone soldiers serving in the IDF.

As ICEJ said goodbye to Dan and wished him well in his pursuits, Julaine Stark transitioned from her post as Assistant to ICEJ’s Vice President of Operations and stepped in to lead the team. Since her arrival at ICEJ head office in 2015, Julaine has served as Word from Jerusalem’s Copy Editor. This experience, combined with her background in publishing, writing and editing, marketing and design, has made her well-equipped to assume leadership of our Publications team.

Julaine is a creative, optimistic woman of faith with a sense of adventure and a deep love for the people of Israel. “It has been a privilege to see first-hand the prophetic restoration of Israel and extend a hand of comfort and friendship to her people. To now speak to the world on their behalf (through ICEJ’s communications) is an honor and gift from the Lord, and I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity.”

As Julaine embraces her new position as the Publications Director, she is eager to add her personal touch to the magazine. Keep your eyes open for new features of the Word from Jerusalem in upcoming issues!
 

Back from the Brink

The massive rocket barrage from Gaza in November not only brought Israel to the brink of war, it also nearly toppled the government. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Hamas to end the escalation, Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned in protest. With the ruling coalition now down to a razor-thin 61 MKs, Education Minister Naphtali Bennett then demanded the defence portfolio, or his party also would bolt the government, triggering early elections by spring. But Netanyahu proved once more why he is the master of Israeli politics.

In a brief address to the nation, Netanyahu explained that Israel was in the midst of a complex, ongoing military operation against its enemies, and thus it was “irresponsible” for Liberman or Bennett to force new elections at such a sensitive time. He did not specify the security operations involved – since then we have learned of risky IDF intelligence gathering inside Gaza, while the US reportedly has assumed temporary control of the air space over Syria, giving Israel a continued window of freedom for now to strike Iranian targets there. Nevertheless, Bennet backed down and Netanyahu saved his government.

However, Netanyahu was left in a precarious position as just one maverick MK can still topple the government over some outlandish demand. It is more likely that he will now look for the right moment and a reason more to his advantage for calling new elections. A national ballot is due anyway by November 2019, and the prime minister must factor in possible indictments over a series of scandals he is facing. But should he survive and win re-election – which all the recent polls indicate is likely – he will surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as the longest-serving and most-often elected prime minister in Israel’s history.
 

ICEJ Staff Caught in Massive Rocket Barrage

It started out as a routine visit to some of our aid projects along the Gaza border. On a bright November morning, I joined ICEJ AID director Nicole Yoder for a tour of several initiatives we sponsor in the western Negev. But by noon, nothing was routine about this day, as we got caught in the largest, most concentrated one-day rocket barrage coming from Gaza. Over the next 24 hours, nearly 500 rockets and mortars hammered Israeli communities along the border. Nothing could have mentally prepared us for this onslaught of Hamas firepower.

Timely shelters
We were accompanied that day by our partner Shmuel Bowman, director of Operation Lifeshield, who first took us to a new mobile bomb shelter we had just placed in the region. The fact that the ICEJ has been providing bomb shelters all over the Gaza envelope – more than 70 to date – means residents have places of safety to run to when rockets start falling. By evening, the beneficiaries of this shelter had called to give thanks for its timely delivery, saying it had been quickly put to good use.

Sweet produce from a hard place
By our next stop, it was still quiet. The iconic Kibbutz Yad Mordechai boasts some of Israel’s best produce, including the best honey. The kibbutz spirit is very much alive at Yad Mordechai with no problems insurmountable. This was clear from hearing about the measures used to counter the arson threat from Gaza. They showed us a specially developed app named ‘Aviva’, which alerts local security officers with real-time information about threats and the location. The threat is often in the form of incendiary balloons, and the kibbutz security team showed us one such device they were able to stop in time. Others were not intercepted, but they still were able to douse the resulting fires with a new firefighting trailer donated by the ICEJ which allows rapid, nimble response to brush fires. The kibbutz leaders could not thank us enough!

Gadi Arkoni – the right spirit
Our next stop was a meeting with Gadi Arkoni, mayor of the Eshkol Regional Council. Having lost both legs in a Hamas rocket strike, Gadi is a living embodiment of the suffering and resilience of the Jewish communities in the Gaza periphery. A kibbutznik through-and-through, he was born and raised in the area and studied agricultural management, which means he is 100% invested in this land. Yet, there is no trace of extremism or bitterness in Gadi. Just as Israelis will not budge from their land, he recognises the Gazans also are “here to stay”. For him, this means some agreement of coexistence eventually must be reached, though it remains a distant dream so long as Hamas rules Gaza. It was not always so. He remembers decades ago, when Gazans actually helped work the kibbutz’s fields. Ever hopeful, Gadi has several projects already in mind when normalcy returns.

Wounded but not crushed
Gadi’s approach to life is astonishing – not just because of the trauma his region has endured, but also because of his own personal tragedy. In the last hour of Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day rocket war with Hamas in 2014, Gadi was repairing damage to his kibbutz’s electrical grid when several mortars landed on his emergency team. One shell severed Gadi’s legs and killed two close friends. A lesser man would have given up on life. But Gadi reoriented himself and found meaning in public service. His first act was to testify to a UN commission in Geneva, where he was able to explain the very real consequences of Hamas terror tactics. Back in the Negev, his personal commitment to the Eshkol region has helped fuel a 14% growth in population since taking office.

Surviving a war of attrition
Even with such strength and determination, the people of the Eshkol region need us. Gadi laments the tense “non-war” they have faced since the destructive ‘March of Return’ was launched in March 2018. It seems no end is in sight, yet there are fewer emergency funds being released by the government. Israel faces numerous threats elsewhere and has no ready fix for the war of attrition waged from Gaza. This means Israelis here must persevere, and our support lifts their spirits immensely.

The Barrage begins
We made a third stop that day when we suddenly got stuck in the operational room of the Sedot Negev Regional Council, just three miles from where rockets were being launched at us. We had barely sat down for a briefing with local mayor Tamir Idan when the security chief relayed a report of an RPG strike on a bus with IDF soldiers at a popular vantage point close to the Gaza border fence. Thankfully the bus was mostly empty, though one soldier was severely wounded. But the news really struck home, as just a few months earlier a group of ICEJ staff had stood in that very spot peering over into Gaza.

Shortly after the RPG strike, the first ‘Red Alert’ siren sounded. We had thirty seconds to get to the basement shelter, which served as the region’s situation room. We hurried down the steps with the mayor and watched as he took control.

Under fire
Down in the basement, we saw everyone going about their emergency duties. The atmosphere was tense but these were true professionals. They knew others depended on them. As the sirens kept wailing, we could hear nearby mortar explosions as well as the launch of Iron Dome interceptors, followed by the distant booms of Kassam rockets shattering in mid-air. We counted a dozen or so alarms from our location and about 20 interceptor launches. Well over 400 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza in about 25 hours – the most intense barrage ever.

Your help matters
Nicole and I experienced first-hand that day the urgent need to find shelter, and we were encouraged by those manning the operations room and their words of thanks for the ICEJ’s assistance. We have placed some 70 life-saving bomb shelters in this volatile region, and donated 17 fire-fighting wagons to drench the flames ignited by incendiary balloons. Yet sadly, Hamas continues to wage war from Gaza. So there is still much to do to secure this besieged border area. Thank you for helping us as we stand together with the people of Israel!
 

The Blood Libel Against Israel

The horrific Pittsburgh synagogue massacre in late October left American Jews scrambling to erect new layers of security around their communal lives. Sadly, they are not far behind the Jews of Europe, who have already felt under siege for years. Indeed, there are now metal detectors and armed guards posted outside every Jewish synagogue, day school and community centre across the continent.

The list of recent terror attacks on ‘soft’ Jewish targets is long and far-flung: a Jewish deli in Paris, a day school in Toulouse, a museum in Brussels, a synagogue in Copenhagen. Even as far as Mumbai, India, and the quiet beach resort of Bondi in Australia, violence against Jews is lurking. Whether they are Muslim extremists, radical leftists, or far-right neo-Nazis like the Pittsburgh predator – Jew-haters are on the march everywhere.

No doubt, much of the resurgence in Antisemitism today is fuelled by hatred of Israel. Frustrated by their inability to dent or destroy the Jewish state, many Antisemites lash out at vulnerable Jewish communities nearby. Still, they will never be satisfied until Israel is forced to disappear. And their latest strategy for achieving this goal is quite cunning.

Hauled to The Hague
At the recent International Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem, Israeli deputy prime minister Michael Oren was asked to identify the primary existential threat to Israel in our day. Referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, he responded:

“Hamas and Hizbullah rockets are a threat to Israel, but they’re not an existential threat. They know they cannot destroy us with all their rockets, but what they can do is to get us to shoot back… and they will be hiding in family houses… The existential threat to Israel is to get us accused of war crimes. It’s dragging us into the UN Security Council. It’s dragging us into the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and it’s denying us the right to defend ourselves, and ultimately denying us the right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state.”

“All these groups understand the strategy”, Oren explained. “We have fought this battle already four times… and our narrative has been steadily, irreversibly eroded. Our narrative does not get a fair voice… and we have not internalized the threat. We think it’s about tanks and planes, but we don’t have the right to use them. The Israeli army is bigger than the standing armies of France and the UK combined… But the battleground is not Lebanon or Gaza, the battleground is The Hague.”

Oren’s assessment was astonishingly prescient! The very next day, the Palestinian Authority was elevated in status at the United Nations when it was appointed to head the G-77 group of non-aligned nations which controls the majority of votes in UN bodies. From this new position, the PA vowed to press on with its campaign to delegitimise Israel on the world stage. That very same day, the special prosecutor for the Middle East region at the Criminal Court in The Hague openly warned Israel that she was watching closely for actions along the Gaza border which could be tried as war crimes.

The Real Thugs
The UN’s abnormal obsession with Israel is well-documented. The Jewish state is repeatedly condemned in UN forums far more than all other nations put together, even while the real atrocities and abuses being committed by tyrants and rogue regimes are excused or ignored.

Consider that the Russian military, ever since it deployed troops inside Syria in 2015, has been responsible for killing an estimated 18,000 Syrians, mostly civilians, over the past three years. Yet, the UN is silent!

Meantime, the Assad regime in Syria has been killing, wounding and dispossessing Palestinians in far greater numbers than Israel ever did. In their brutal siege on the Yarmuk refugee camp alone, Assad loyalists over recent years have left tens of thousands of Palestinians dead, maimed or homeless.

Even the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have just been accused by Human Rights Watch of imposing “parallel police states” on the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, where arbitrary arrests and torture are “systematic”. The group even questioned why Western democracies are still funding these repressive regimes.

Yet the campaign to blame Israel alone for all the woes of the Palestinians, and indeed the whole region and even the world, marches on. It is advancing on college campuses and in the entertainment sector through the BDS movement and false apartheid label. The lawfare agenda against Israel is manipulating our court systems. The diplomatic assault on Israel continues to intensify. And the goal is more than just denying Israel the right to exist. Ultimately, it is aimed at convicting Israel of genocide and war crimes in the eyes of the world, in order to justify a final war of extermination against the Jewish state.

Truly, the enemies of Israel all understand this strategy; and it is nothing short of a colossal blood libel against the Jewish state and people.

A Spiritual Disease
Scholars who study Antisemitism have identified three main types of this uniquely persistent hatred – religious, racial and conspiratorial. In the past, Christians were the worst practitioners of the religious form of bigotry towards the Jews, while the Nazis championed racial and conspiratorial theories that slandered and dehumanized them. Today, in the post-Holocaust era, it is all blended together by the hard-right, far-left and radical Islamists.

For instance, they have accused IDF soldiers of killing Palestinians just to sell their organs on the black market. The Mossad was blamed for shark attacks on tourists at Sinai resorts. Israel is purportedly behind all the hurricanes and earthquakes of recent years. And, while Jews are deemed racially and mentally inferior, they somehow are clever enough to control the world. Some scholars even consider Antisemitism a mental disorder that requires treatment, which shows how irrational Antisemitism is.

At its core, Antisemitism is a spiritual malady; a spirit of jealousy and rejection against the Jewish people and we all must choose whether to agree with it or not! In these darkening times, it is crucial that Christians confront the Antisemites of our day. The forebearers of our faith made grave errors when they spread outrageous lies against the Jews, with such destructive results. Thus, we have a special moral duty to tell the Jew-haters of today that it was wrong then and it is wrong now. We must see to it that they do not repeat our mistakes!
 

The Twelve Tribes of Modern Israel

The first Feast night in Jerusalem literally started with a blast as the shofar sounded from the main stage in Pais Arena, calling God’s assembly to attention. The audience was ready to celebrate, and each nation was excited to see its particular national flag ascend to the main stage. A loud, collective cheer sounded when Israel’s flag joined the host of nations, demonstrating the powerful Christian love and support that the ICEJ draws upon in its work for the Jewish people.

Powerful Changes

Following the parade of nations and celebratory worship, ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler took to the stage to address the Feast pilgrims. In an expert manner, he drove home two powerful points—namely the amazing reality God has brought about in Israel over the past 70 years and how diverse and multifaceted Israeli society is today.

Based on Exodus 28, Dr. Bühler gave a profound yet accessible introduction to the mosaic of modern-day Israel. Using the priestly breastplate as a model for Israel’s 12 tribes, the audience was introduced to 12 contemporary population groups, each unique in its own way and spanning an astonishingly broad spectrum in terms of religion, ethnicity, and social class. Dr. Bühler suggested that Christians adopt one of these modern-day “tribes” and intercede for its people in prayer.

“Now we don’t have the twelve tribes anymore today,” Dr. Bühler said, “but let me suggest . . . 12 contemporary 'tribes' of Israel—12 tribes that need your prayer, 12 tribes the Lord asks you to put on your heart, to put . . . on your shoulders, and to bring . . . before God.”

He used Scripture, along with ancient and contemporary history, to give a highly effective lesson on where and what Israel is today.

The following descriptions include five of those 12 modern-day “tribes,” adapted from Dr. Bühler’s message at the Feast.

Value-Driven Ultra-Orthodox

The first tribe in Israel is the Ultra-Orthodox community. They are easily recognized by how they dress. They make up approximately 12 percent of the population and have many different traditions, but they have a united voice against immorality. . . . Recall that one of the greatest apostles in the Bible came out of this community, a young man in Jerusalem named Saul . . . After he had an encounter with Jesus, he became the main force in the New Testament church and took the gospel to the nations.

Secular Faith

[Another tribe] lies on the exact opposite side of the spectrum, the secular people here in this land, many of who are atheists. However, atheists in the Land of Israel are different from those in other countries. Just a few days ago we honored the day of Yom Kippur. I was surprised to find out that more than 40 percent of the secular community was fasting, too. Israeli atheist Amos Oz has said, “We are atheists of the book. We read the Bible because it is our history book; it gives us identity.” Interestingly enough, it was from among those people Jesus found the most followers when he walked here in Israel.

Voices for the Future

[A third] group I want to introduce to you are Holocaust Survivors. They are a group that is becoming smaller each day. Today there are over 180,000 Holocaust Survivors left. Every year, an estimated 25,000 Holocaust Survivors pass away. Their dreams are sometimes nightmares. They still wake up in the middle of the night, and they hear the barking of the German guard dogs, corralling them into the gas chambers. But the dreams that they have for the future can be summed up by the following: They tell me, “Jürgen, I hope that when we die, that our memories will stay alive, that people will always remember what we have been through.”

And, ladies and gentlemen, that is why we have a Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa. We can take care of those people and also ensure that their memory will pass on to the next generation. Time is running out to help these people. Every day, Holocaust Survivors pass away, and I believe we are called to bless them.

The Russian Jews

[Another tribe] is the Russian Jews. When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1989, more than one million Jews came rushing to the Land of Israel . . . They are an integral part of Israeli society. They serve in the army . . . they even have their own political party in the Knesset, and they can be found among the staff at the Christian Embassy. Over the last 20 years, the ICEJ has helped more than 120,000 Russian Jews make their way back to the Land of Israel. These are the people about whom the Bible says, “Behold, I will speak to the north country and I will tell it, let my people go” (cf. Isaiah 43:6), and God answered those prayers. They have returned back to the Land of Israel.

The Heart of the Start-Up Nation

The last tribe is the academic science/high-tech tribe, accounting for more than 70 percent of Israel’s economic volume. Israel is the only nation that already had a university before the nation was established, and today some of the greatest scientists come from this land. Their dreams are quite literal, like making the lame walk. [One] company called ReWalk actually helps people walk again. Others are working through science to get people’s eyesight back, and still others to heal cancer and other diseases. If you ask those folks, “Why are you doing this?” they say, “Because we want to be a blessing to the nations.”

Pray for the ultra-orthodox, the secular, Holocaust Survivors, Russian Jews, academics, and the rest of the 12 “tribes” of modern Israel.

To hear this full message, please visit our ICEJ store: www.icejstore.com

Awards, Achievements, & Celebrations!

Journey of Dreams – Joint Jewish-Christian Successes

One special evening at the Feast is the ICEJ's Israeli Guest Night, which provides moving highlights of Jewish-Christian cooperation and joint accomplishments. The ICEJ’s special effort in Aliyah moved the audience as they witnessed the trials and frustrations of a Jewish Ethiopian family, long awaiting an opportunity to immigrate to Israel before the family finally flew over Tel Aviv’s beautiful night-time cityscape to be reunited with their extended family in Ben Gurion Airport – all scenes from the ICEJ’s new documentary: “Journey of Dreams.” This was the beginning of a tour-de-force demonstrating to Israelis the impressive range of projects in which the ICEJ is involved, spanning aid work, public diplomacy and the unique home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, a group of whom were actually present in the audience, and who received the entire arena’s standing recognition. The Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors also received gifts for 2 million and 1 million NIS from the ICEJ's German and US branches respectively, presented by National Directors Gottfried Bühler and Susan Michael.

Israel in the international arena
Likewise, Israel’s efforts in the international arena and the country’s very tangible blessings to the world were also highlighted in a CBN documentary about the time-honoured Jewish endeavour for “Tikkun Olam” (loosely translated as “repairing the world”). The efforts of private Israeli citizens among refugees, for example, and the Israeli government’s responses to natural disasters around the world all underscored that Israel cares and does so with a global impact.

The Paradox of Operation Good Neighbor
The crowning jewel of these joint successes was delivered by retired IDF Colonel Marco Moreno, who headed up “Operation Good Neighbor” on the Israeli-Syrian border, an effort aimed at providing aid and humanitarian relief to war-struck Syrians. Moving scenes of young IDF soldiers, trained to defend their country with force, but in this instance helping refugees reach safety in Israel passed over the screens. In one sequence, you see Moreno in the Golan Heights, close to the border with Syria: “You can hear bombing as we speak. That means that tonight our soldiers, our brave soldiers, will go and save lives.” Back in the arena, Moreno concluded, “It sounds like a joke: Christians and Jews helping Muslims, right? But it’s the reality”

Awards and Recognition
A prime function of this gala evening is to celebrate and recognise valuable contributions. This is why the ICEJ each year gives the Nehemiah Award to an individual who has served the Jewish people in exceptional ways. Because of the seminal move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, US Senator Jon Kyl, who originally sponsored the bill and legislation leading to the Embassy Act of 1995, was a most natural and worthy recipient of this year’s award.

The Cyrus Award and notable achievements
A new award, directly related to recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: the Cyrus Award, has also been instated by the ICEJ. This reward has been given to heads-of-state from nations taking the bold step to move their embassies to Jerusalem. These were highlighted by Mojmir Kallus, the ICEJ’s VP for International Affairs, who also mentioned smaller but very significant contributions from poor and minor countries around the world. The determination of local Christians in, e.g., Tanzania and Albania to bless Israel is truly heart-warming and set an example of a different kind. Such quiet efforts are equally inspiring and worthy as some of the headline-making contributions.

Personal addresses by Israel’s PM and The Jewish Agency’s chairman
Two personal addresses had been specially recorded to address the Feast Pilgrims on this festive evening. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his address by stating, “I am delighted that there is a Christian Embassy.” He also stood by Israel’s relations to Christians in the Land, telling the audience that “Sometimes a profound truth is a simple truth. Here is a simple truth: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that protects the rights of Christians. Think of that. For thousands of miles around us, there is only one place Christians thrive. Right here in Israel.” He finished his address with deep-felt thanks: “Thank you for recognising Israel. Thank you for always supporting Israel.”

Another personal address was given by the newly elected chairman for The Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog, “I want to thank you for your support. Your support has been enormous. (…) and we are partners with you, the ICEJ. (…) Together we have brought 140,000 new immigrants to Israel - I think it is an enormous achievement.”

Days of Fulfillment

Seventy, or derivatives of seven in the Bible, constitute the idea of rich fulfilment. For instance, Moses appointed seventy elders to help him fulfil the daunting mission that God gave him in terms of leading a million people out of Egypt (Numbers 11:16). The great exile of Judah to Babylon that took place in the sixth century before Christ would be fulfilled after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12), and thus when the Prophet Daniel read this in the book of Jeremiah he went about fasting and praying about the fulfilment of this promise (Daniel 9:2). Daniel also received an oracle from heaven that announced that Israel’s unique destiny on the earth would be fulfilled after seventy weeks of years (Daniel 9:24-27).

In terms of the New Testament scriptures, we are told that Jesus appointed seventy disciples to help Him fulfil the mission that God His Father had given Him (Luke 10:1,17). Jesus told us that we are to forgive others who offend us “seventy times seven times”, in order to fulfil the demands of God’s righteousness in us (Matthew 18:22). Also, in the end we all have 70 years in order to fulfil God’s personal plan for each of us on earth (Psalm 90:10).

From all of this we understand that in God’s economy seventy designates fulfilment or evidence of His allotted purpose. So, in terms of Israel, the message is clear: Her existence is no accident of history but clear fulfilment of God’s plan and purpose for her and for the world. Israel is God’s vehicle of world redemption and His actions in her modern-day restoration are a herald of great things to come.

God’s promises to Abraham
Indeed, Israel’s existence rests on unconditional and everlasting promises that God made to Abraham and His descendants. Israel is therefore evidence of these and a clear testimony to the Church and the world at large, that the God of the Bible fulfils His promises. This is precisely why we can all trust Him fully in all things. To Israel, through Abraham, God promised land as an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:7-8); He promised that the blessings of eternal salvation would flow to the world from her by the coming of a ‘Seed Messiah” (Genesis 22:18; John 4:22) and; He promised that blessings and curses would fall upon many depending on how they related to her (Genesis 12:1-3). Today Israel stands strong at 70 because the nation is beloved “for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28), meaning that the God of the Bible does not lie and will therefore not turn back on the undertakings that He made to Abraham. Abraham is forever God’s friend and the God we serve does not turn His back on His friends; although many in the Church assert that He does! Israel’s modern-day restoration is a vexing contradiction to the wayward theological thinking of those who espouse replacement theology and it exposes their inability to rightly understand the character of God.

God’s prophetic markers
Israel’s modern restoration has taken place because God has fully honoured and fulfilled His undertakings to the nation given in the Abrahamic Covenant. The prophetic portions of scripture confirm these and date them so that we have no excuse in terms of recognizing the hand of God in Israel’s national destiny.

So, for instance, the Prophet Jeremiah speaks prophetically of a coming day when more Jews would return to the land of Israel from the North Country than those who returned from Egypt under Moses, 1300 years before Christ (Jeremiah 23:7-8). This is an extraordinary prophetic oracle, as at no time up until the present day did this happen. The return from Babylon after seventy years of Exile saw nothing like the number that Moses brought out of Egypt since the numbers in this regard are clearly recorded in the pages of scripture (Ezra 2). But, in recent years, beginning with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, more than a million Russian Jews have returned to Zion and they are still coming. The God we serve is a God of fulfilment!

In addition, the Prophet Zechariah predicted that a day would come when Jerusalem would spill over its wall and straddle the surrounding hills of Judea (Zechariah 2:1-5). This has not happened until the 20th Century when for the first time homes and dwellings of all types began to spring up around the ancient walled and biblical city of Zion. In fact, the first community to be built in this regard was that of Yemin Moshe, easily recognised by the windmill that stands amongst its dwellings.

Amos, that remarkable “Shepherd Prophet” (Amos 7:14-15), wrote of Israel’s trials and tribulations in terms of judgment and exile, but he also saw a day, by the hand of God, when Israel would return to her ancient homeland never to be “plucked up again” (Amos 9:13-15). This is no reference to the return from Babylon as the nation was “plucked up again” in A.D. 70, but rather a prophetic picture of our day. God has fulfilled His promises before our very eyes. He is the friend of Abraham and thus a God of fulfilment.

And then Jesus gave a prophetic oracle that is known as the Olivet Discourse, which is recorded in all the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). In this discourse He stated that the Jews would be dispersed into all the nations of the world and that Jerusalem would be “downtrodden by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Here again the idea of fulfilment is brought into focus and consequently in 1967, by the Six Day War of June of that year, the gentile nations lost their grip on the holy city and it returned to Jewish sovereignty. This is amazing and again a testimony to the faithfulness of God to His covenant with Abraham.

God’s promised Son
There is no doubt that the greatest gift of Israel to the world is Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only unique Son. He has saved millions of people of all colours, creeds and nations from their sins and has become the most famous person of all time. He has no competitors, since He towers above all the human icons of time and divides history itself by His existence. Moreover, He is alive at the very right hand of God from whence He will soon return to the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11). Israel’s modern-day restoration constitutes a platform by which the Son of God will return to the earth in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30). The Psalmist wrote that there would come a time when the Lord would “build up Zion” and then “appear in His glory” (Psalm 102:16-17). This time is upon us, yes, the time has come or has been fulfilled for the Son of God to shortly come as King to His people.

God’s people of prayer
Because all these things are true, it is clear that we have responsibilities as Christians to Israel and the Jewish people since we share in “their spiritual things” (Romans 15:27). In short, we should bless what God is blessing and work where God is working. Our God is working in all the earth, but He is doing mighty and wondrous things in Israel. Paul tells us that God has not forsaken His people (Romans 11:1,11) and He has not abandoned the calling that He placed over them in Abraham four thousand years ago (Romans 11:29). He has faithfully fulfilled all His promises to them, and Israel’s seventieth anniversary brings this into focus. Consequently, for the Apostle Paul this means that we should:

1. Resist the notion that He has abandoned them (Romans 11:11);
2. Resist anti-Semitism (Romans 11:20-22);
3. Resist pride and arrogance (Romans 11:18).

We should actually give ourselves to prayer and fasting for Israel as Daniel did when he discerned the times of fulfilment in Israel’s long historical journey (Daniel 9:1-3). Also, the Psalmist, while speaking of a future day of the up building of Zion, stated that this would happen because God has heard the prayers of His people (Psalm 102: 15-17). Paul knew that his major contribution to the well-being and salvation of Israel would be that of prayer (Romans 10:1). We must not fail God now but arise to take hold of the days of fulfilment. This means that Jesus’ Church should be a “house of prayer”.

 

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